Paging Lady Whistledown: The stars of “Bridgerton” have served us some piping hot tea about their offscreen relationship.
Netflix’s hottest new onscreen couple, Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor, appeared remotely on “Good Morning America” Wednesday to discuss their chemistry on Shonda Rhimes’ juicy period drama (insert side-eye emoji here).
The English actors star as Simon Basset — a.k.a. the Duke of Hastings — and Daphne Bridgerton, respectively, in the buzzy series based on Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels about love and lust in Regency-era England.
“Chemistry is probably the easiest part because Phoebe is lovely,” Page said of his costar. “And we were working with such wonderful material. The characters already existed. These are bestselling books — people love them — and they have great chemistry in the books. All we had to do was channel through this amazing chemistry that already existed.”
Bridgerton isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a period piece. While the Shonda Rhimes-produced Netflix series (adapted from books by Julia Quinn) has the look of a Regency-era social drama, it goes deeper than many of its period-piece brethren, exploring issues of race, gender equality, and sexuality—without skimping at all on the opulent costumes, jaw-dropping sets, longing glances, or upper-class anxiety.
Actress Phoebe Dynevor stars in the series as Daphne Bridgerton, a young woman dubbed her social season’s most promising debutante. Viewers might expect her to meet suitors, giggle nervously, and eventually follow her heart to a perfect match and hulking country estate—but what Dynevor delivers is something altogether different. Yes, the series is part Downton Abbey, but it’s also got a wild side; Daphne’s a more fleshed-out character than we’re used to seeing in Regency dramas and at some steamy moments, the series can feel like Normal People in corsets. Which is all to say, it’s a delight. There’s enough storytelling candy for any fan of period pieces, and Bridgerton is brainy enough to keep viewers glued to the TV even if high-society hijinks aren’t normally their cup of tea.
Here, Dynevor talks to T&C about taking on the role, facing her fears on-camera, and how a group text helped with her history lessons.
How much did you know about the world of Bridgerton going into the series?
Not a lot. I mean, I remember I had an audition in January, I was actually in New York at the time and I filmed a tape and never heard anything back from it. And then three months later I got called in and I met with [executive producer] Betsy Beers and [creator] Chris Van Dusen and it kicked off from there. And then I chemistry read with Regé-Jean Page [who plays Daphne’s will-they-or-won’t-they love interest] the week after. It all happened really quickly when it actually happened, and so between my second meeting and the chemistry test, I read the books and got to know who this character was and what her world was like. Because from the script it felt period, but not conventionally so.
The British period drama has long been the domain of white actors, but the genre is getting an inclusive update in recent years: Mary, Queen of Scots featured Gemma Chan as Bess of Hardwick in 2018, Dev Patel played the eponymous hero in The Personal History of David Copperfield this year, and Jodie Turner-Smith is set to play Anne Boleyn in a new Tudor series. Slowly but surely, actors of color are becoming period fixtures, and Netflix and Shondaland are adding historical romp Bridgerton to the list. (Though there was certainly no danger of a white-washed cast with Shonda Rhimes serving as executive producer.)
The series is based on Julia Quinn’s romance novels and feels like a Gossip Girl meets Pride & Prejudice fantasy mash-up, with Julie Andrews as the narrator. Set during Great Britain’s Regency era, the revisionist history series follows the eight siblings of the powerful Bridgerton family as they navigate love, sex, and duty in high society. Black actors not only play leading roles, as with Rhimes’s series Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, but are also positioned amongst the highest rank of the aristocracy.
“It’s a relief to make the very easy decision to stop excluding people from our stories,” star Regé-Jean Page tells ELLE.com. “It’s not commonly done, but also, there’s no good reason for it not to be done.”
Phoebe Dynevor has the world at her feet. After breakout roles in the gangster series Snatch and US comedy series Younger, Dynevor is embarking on a new chapter as Daphne Bridgerton in Bridgerton, coming to Netflix at the end of this year. Based on Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels, the eight episode spectacular exuding glamour and romance is set to be a must watch. In anticipation of its release, EXIT catches up with the rising star to talk debutantes, couture and what it means to be happy.
Congratulations on your new show Bridgerton! What drew you to the script?
Thank you. I think what ultimately drew me to the script and to the character was the idea that Shondaland would be delving into the world of Regency England. I’m a big fan of period dramas (Regency in particular) but I knew with Shonda involved the female characters would not be without agency and that was an exciting prospect for me.
How was it getting into the character of Daphne? How is she different you’re your previous roles?
I immediately empathised with Daphne and what she longs for as a woman within the context of that time. I could relate to her inner turmoil and anxiety and the ways in which she manages to conceal it. Our dance choreographer Jack Murphy was essential in helping me with the etiquette and how she presents herself to the outside world. She’s different to other roles I’ve played mostly because of the very patriarchal world she constantly has to navigate. Daphne never has the freedom to ‘find herself’ so a lot of who she is, is based on what that society says she should be.
And how was it working with such an incredible cast? What were some stand out moments on set?
The cast really is incredible and I made some friends for life working on this show. I think a lot of my favourite moments were the dance sequences (which I never thought I’d say). I was so out of my comfort zone which was equally exciting and thrilling and an experience I’ll never forget.
Who do you sight as your biggest acting icons? Do you remember a first performance that left an impression on you?
I have to say Meryl Streep was the first. I remember seeing her in A Series of Unfortunate Events and thinking, what the heck is she doing? It’s bizarre and wonderful and I want to do that too. I then became a little obsessed with Gena Rowlands after watching her performance in A Woman Under the Influence. Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine is another standout performance. It’s that idea of being completely uninhibited that is so thrilling to me as an actress. Interestingly, everything Daphne is not but playing with that idea of ‘at what point will she break?’ Was equally exciting.
In our list of questions for the “Bridgerton” cast, Dynevor reveals exclusive insights about the eldest Bridgerton daughter, the show, and her own fun quirks and big dreams.
Since Lady Whistledown is all about judging a book by its cover (or a rumor), we figured it might behoove the fans to get to know the cast of Shondaland’s newest period drama, Bridgerton, more intimately. As we head toward the series premiere on December 25, we’ve concocted a part-serious/part-silly question-and-answer rundown so that you can find out what makes these actors tick and what makes their characters tock.
First up, we have Phoebe Dynevor, who plays the eldest daughter of the aristocratic Bridgerton family, as she debuts onto Regency London’s marriage mart. Daphne is diligent and dedicated to helping her family legacy live on, but she won’t suffer fools, either. She has a lot on her golden plate this season as the task of finding not just a suitable match, but a love match takes its toll on the young lady.
What do you have in common with your character?
PHOEBE DYNEVOR: We’d both do anything for the people we love. Also, we probably both have quite a bit of anxiety which we conceal pretty well… for the most part [laughs].
Enchanting Phoebe is an unofficial fansite for actress Phoebe Dynevor. The staff has no contact with Phoebe, her family, or anyone associated with her.
Photos used are copyright their original owner and credit is given when known. Watermarks are for advertising purposes only. Please let us know if you own the rights to a photo and wish to have it removed or credited differently.
Enchanting Phoebe Dynevor is an unofficial site. The owner, staff, and contributors have no contact with Phoebe, or anyone associated with her. Any original content is copyright Enchanting Phoebe Dynevor and may not be used elsewhere. All photos are copyright their original owners and are used with their permission or under fair use copyright law. Watermarks are for advertising purposes only and are not meant to imply ownership. If you are the owner of anything shared on the site and wish to have it credited differently or removed, please reach out the staff and we will do so as soon as possible.